Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Woodoaks Farm

A late afternoon visit produced good numbers of raptor with at least five Red Kite, two Common Buzzard and a single Eurasian Sparrowhawk all seen. The Sparrowhawk gave incredibly close views as it sat in the winter sunshine warming itself. Interestingly a male House Sparrow perched extremely close sang out loud despite its dangerous neighbour in full view.

Cassiobury Park

I visited early morning before many of the joggers and dog walkers were about in hope of catching a glimpse of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Despite my best efforts I was unable to hear let alone see any. The commoner Great Spotted Woodpeckers were about in numbers with at least two drumming males seen and heard and at least two Green Woodpeckers put in the briefest of appearances. Near the Cafe the resident pair of Little Owl were active despite the cold, biting wind and I managed to take a shot of one individual by hiding behind a large trunk of an adjacent Oak. Once happy I had a half descent shot I slowly moved away and watched from a distance as both birds interacted with each other. If you decide to pay a visit yourself please try not to disturb the birds too much as they will be breeding shortly.

2018 catch up

Well its been quite a while since my last post and although the blog has been quiet its been very busy on the birding front. Here's a brief catch up on the goings on over the past few months.

06-01-2018 Langley Park
A morning visit produced a couple of unexpected visitors. On the lake a Mediterranean Gull was present amongst the Black-headed Gull's and was a new species for me at this location.

Then at the Rhododendron gardens a rather noisy Orange-winged Amazon was doing its best to out call the resident Ring-necked Parakeets. Obviously rejoicing in its new found freedom.

30-01-2018 Staines Reservoir and Staines Moor
It had been a while since I had last visited the reservoir and as a Horned Lark had been located on the south basin I decided to pay a visit. This bird had been showing quite well and was believed to be of the North American sub-species. As there are at least 42 sub-species recognised world wide I'm not going to try and narrow this down any further.

A circuit of the moor produced a single Water Pipit and several Common Stonechat. I also happened across a female Common Kestrel that had gorged itself and was struggling to digest it's prey.

San Francisco, California 13th - 16th February 2018
A family holiday to California afforded me some birding opportunities usually in the form of early morning walks to the local park near our hotel. Lafayette Park is something of an oasis and so I saw quite a few new species during my visits.

California Scrub Jay.

Red-masked Parakeet.

Black Phoebe.

Golden-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow.

Townsend's Warbler.

Song Sparrow.

Acorn Woodpecker.

American Robin.

Anna's Hummingbird.

Eurasian Collared Dove.

Red-tailed Hawk.

A bike ride along the seafront at Fisherman's Wharf, Crissy Field Beach and Marsh and Golden Gate Park produced even more species. At Fisherman's Wharf the California Sealions always put on a noisy but fun performance.

 Brandt's Cormorant.

Double-crested Cormorant.
At Crissy Field Marsh a few waders were busily feeding and were close enough to photograph.
Long-billed Curlew.

Out in the bay a Pacific Diver and good numbers of Western Grebe fished while the Western Gulls looked on.

A brief stop for refreshments at the Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe produced Brewer's Blackbirds and Brown Headed Cowbirds all on the scrounge for a few leftovers.

At Golden Gate Park, Stow Lake produced good numbers of waterfowl.

Ring-necked Duck (male).

Ring-necked Duck (female).

Lesser Scaup (male).
Hooded Merganser (male).

Canada Goose.

American Coot.

Steller's Jay.
On the bank of Stow Lake a Pocket Gopher popped up out of its burrow to say hello.
We also visited the Japanese Tea Gardens which apart from being very beautiful and peaceful threw up even more species.
 California Towhee.

Dark-eyed Junco.

Red-shouldered Hawk.
Continuing west along the park we finally reached the beach where I viewed several Surf Scoter doing what they do best, feeding amongst the surf.

23-02-2018 Black Park Country Park & Maple Cross
A morning visited provided a comprehensive list including a small flock of Eurasian Siskin.
At the lake Mandarin Ducks in full breeding plumage and a pair of Egyptian Goose posed fro the camera.

I then made my way back to Maple Cross where a small flock of Brambling and Yellowhammer was showing well just west of the estate at Hornhill Road.

Brambling (male in non breeding plumage).

04-03-2018 Springwell Lake
I had recently discovered a Great White Egret in the River a couple of days previous and was desperate to get a record shot of this particular bird as it was proving very difficult to see. Eventually I managed just that, a very poor record shot, but to be honest I was just happy to add this species to my list for this site. 

10-03-2018 Broadwater Lake Nature Reserve 
A morning visit produced good numbers of waterfowl including a lovely pair of Northern Pintail. This particular species is uncommon at this site so I was very happy indeed to get a record shot of both birds although the female decided to upend as I pressed the shutter. They were feeding in the shallows at Harefield Lake which is part of the Nature Reserve complex.

13-03-2018 Maple Lodge Nature Reserve
An early morning visit in bitterly cold conditions provided me great views of a rather bedraggled Cetti's Warbler that was missing much of its tail feathers. At first I mistook this bird for a Wren until it came closer where I could see the deep chestnut plumage and longer, straighter bill and pale supercilium. It remained in front of the Teal Hide for some time and interacted with a displaying male Wren.